The year in fact-checking began just like the year did for many Australians - with catastrophic bushfires the focus of attention.
As blazes raged up and down the east coast, a Facebook post was blaming former PM Julia Gillard and former Greens leader Bob Brown for supposedly striking a deal that resulted in forests being stripped of rangers and hazard reduction burning. That claim was quickly debunked.
Fake news about bushfires was replaced by coronavirus fear-mongering as the CoViD19 virus spread from its epicentre in Wuhan, China. The spread of the virus was outpaced by the spread of misinformation and the FactCheck team - as our fellow IFCN fact-checkers around the world have been busy examining hoaxes and false information.
Among the checks carried out, AAP FactCheck confirmed the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (as it was known before getting its official CoViD19 name) had not been found at Rhodes. Nor had it been found at Strathfield, Burwood or Chester Hill, and nor had it been found in imported rice, instant noodles or Chinese Red Bull. Read the full claim and analysis here.
The virus, while extremely serious, was also found not to be more deadly than Ebola, as claimed in a Facebook post viewed more than 17,000 times.
Social media wasn’t solely consumed with fake news about coronavirus: in keeping with themes of the season, a claim was made that Valentine’s Day roses would all be flown in because local roses were almost wiped out by the bushfires. Romantics believing the worst would be devastated to learn that most roses are already air-freighted to Australia for Valentine’s Day and have been for years.
The Valentine’s Day check was carried out soon after AAP launched its new website, where FactCheck is now displayed front and centre on the home page.
And finally, as the Easter Bunny hops closer, lovers of hot cross buns can rest assured that eating the baked delights probably won’t expose them to dangerous, cancer-causing chemicals - unless they eat hundreds of them in a single sitting.